Course Title: Create a drama series or serial

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2010

Course Code: COMM5925

Course Title: Create a drama series or serial

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6088 - Advanced Diploma of Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4368

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Luke Devenish

Telephone: 0412 58 94 38


Nominal Hours: 140

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

This course delivers the skills and knowledge required to write and develop a drama serise and/or serial.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VPAU310 Create drama series or serial


1. Analyse current market.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Market demographics are delineated
1.2 Markets for established programs are identified
1.3 Characteristics of current programs and market trends are clarified
1.4 Program gaps are defined
1.5 Network program requirements are assessed


2. Produce serise bible.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Audience for proposed series or serial is identified
2.2 Basic premise of series or serial is established
2.3 Characters and character arcs are developed
2.4 Stories are appropriate to genre and format
2.5 Story arcs for duration of series or serial are outlined


3. Create pilot episode

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Scene sequences are outlined showing story and character arcs
3.2 Plot and sub-plot are integrated into clear narrative line
3.3 Budget considerations are taken into account
3.4 Consultation takes place with appropriate industry personnel
3.5 Script is revised to meet industry or enterprise requirements


4. Promote serise to key industry persons.

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Key producers appropriate to project are identified
4.2 Support for project is obtained from own network
4.3 Series bible and supporting documents are pitched to appropriate industry personnel
4.4 Appropriate follow up action is taken following initial pitch

Learning Outcomes


Details of Learning Activities

• lectures
• demonstrations
• guest lecturers
• peer teaching and class presentations
• exercises
• discussion
• group activities/projects
• workshopping

The course will include lectures, analysis of existing television shows, class discussion, workshopping, individual and group projects and regular written exercises.

Teaching Schedule

1Introduction to creating episodes for an existing series. View part of an episode of a successful, yet long-forgotten series, chosen for its apparent story simplicity. Write one-liners discussing the exact function of each scene. Suggest possibilities for the scenes that are not shown. Plot the remainder of the episode as group.   Class to choose a serial drama to begin studying next week.                                                                                         


2Introduction to Serial Drama. Discussion of the history, conventions, enduring popularity and evolution of serial drama in Australia and internationally. Watch an episode of the serial chosen by the class last week with a view to identifying the elements behind its success.            1
3Introduction of the serial writers’ ‘box of tricks’. Introduction of professional short cuts and formulae for dynamic character and storyline creation on demand. Watch a second episode of the chosen serial with a view to identifying and discussing the ‘box of tricks’ at work.1, 2
 4Labour Day Public Holiday. No class this week. 
5Watch a third episode of the chosen serial drama, followed by a discussion of the characters and storylines in depth. Discuss potential arcs for the characters and storylines for future episodes.1, 2, 3
6Work as a group towards plotting the unseen fourth episode of the serial drama. 3
7Continue working as a group towards plotting the unseen next episode of the serial drama. Set individual assignments for the Mid-Semester Break, to be submitted just prior to the return to class, Monday 12 April. 3
8Process assignments with the group as a whole. Each student to make their respective changes to their serial drama assignments and re-submit for assessment by next class, Monday 19 April. Class to choose contemporary sitcom to study in next week’s class. 3
9View episode of contemporary sitcom chosen by class. Discuss style, character, story, structure and dialogue in light of all that has been covered so far. Break episode down into its subject matter/satirical elements and A & B storylines. Each student to prepare a potential sitcom. storyline for next week. 3
10Work with the group in exploring all the potential Simpsons storylines submitted and then decide on the best two. Begin the process of plotting the storylines into a full episode. 1, 3
11Continue plotting an episode of the sitcom. 3
12Continue plotting an episode of the sitcom. Allocate individual assignments, to be submitted before next week. 3
13Process assignments with the class as a whole. Each student to make changes to their respective sitcom. assignment for submission for assessment. 
14Writing week for students. Tutor available for individual consultation.  
15Assessment of submissions 
 16Individual feedback sessions with students                                                                                                                                                                                                 
17.Queens Birthday Public Holiday 
 In Semester 2, the focus will shift from creating material for existing TV series to creating original TV series concepts.  
1Creation of Dramatic World ’What if?’ Concept Question, Premise & Protagonist.,  
2Continued creation of Dramatic World, ‘What if?’ Concept Question, Premise & Protagonist.  
3 Continued creation of Dramatic World, ‘What if?’ Concept Question, Premise & Protagonist. Assignment 1 given – due 26 July 
4 Enhancement of Dramatic World, Concept, Premise and Protagonist. Creation of Secondary Characters. 
5 Continued enhancement of Dramatic World, Concept, Premise and Protagonist. Continued creation of Secondary Characters. 
6Continued enhancement of Dramatic World, Concept, Premise and Protagonist. Continued creation of Secondary Characters. Assignment 2 given – due 16 August. 
7Creation of Primary Storyline. 
8Continued creation of Primary Storyline. 
 Mid Semester Break - 30 August - 3 September 
9Continued creation of Primary Storyline. Assignment 3 given – due 13 Sept. 
10Creation of Secondary Storylines.  
11Continued creation of Secondary Storylines. Assignment 4 given – due 27 Sept. 
12Creation of Series Concept Document and consolidation of semester work. 
13Continued creation of Series Concept Document and consolidation of semester work. 
14Continued creation of Series Concept Document and consolidation of ideas. Assignment 5 given - due 25 Oct. 
15 - 16Writing weeks for studentsWriting week for students 
17Assessment of submissions 
18Review of Semester’s work 

Please Note: In Semester Two, the focus will be on developing a series concept, bible and pilot episode. Methods for promoting and marketing series concepts will also be considered.

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

You will assessed on your knowledge of the current drama series market. This will include your understanding  of the major players and of the elements of successful drama series/serials and script writing techniques and terminology.  You will also be assessed on your ability to write a series bible to industry standard and a first episode to industry standard.

Assessment Tasks

1 Serial drama plotting exercise. 5%.  Due Monday 22 March

2. ‘Serial drama scene breakdown. 15%. Due Monday 19 April

3. Sitcom storyline pitch. 5%. Due Monday 26 April

4. Sitcom plotting exercise 5% Due Monday 10 May

5. Sitcom scene breakdown 5% Monday 17 May

6.Sitcom scripted scenes 15% Due Monday 31 May

7. Dramatic world, concept, premise and protagonist assignment 10% Due Monday 26 July

8. Secondary characters assignment 5% Due 16 August

9. Primary storyline assignment 10% Due Monday 13 September

10. Secondary storylines assignment 10% Due Monday 27 September

11. Original series concept document 15^ Monday 25 October

Assessment Matrix

Other Information

Submission of work for assessment:

All assessment submissions require a completed School Cover Sheet. The form is located in the course site in the Distributed Learning System (DLS). Please check with your teacher regarding any online submission requirements including the completed Cover Sheet.

Late submission:

If you are unable to complete your assessment project, assignment or essay by the due date, and you are seeking an extension of up to 7 calendar days, you need to apply to the teacher. The teacher will consider your request and will notify you within 24 hours as to whether your request for an extension of up to 7 calendar days from the due date has been granted or not. This Application for Extension is to be made using the form provided in the course site in the Distributed Learning System (DLS), together with supporting evidence such as a medical certificate. The Application is to be submitted to the teacher (by email or in person), no later than one working day before the official due date.

However, if you are seeking an extension of longer than 7 calendar days, or if you are seeking an extension for an exam, test or lab-based assessment, you need to apply to the University for Special Consideration.

If you are unsure which application to make, please discuss with your programs manager.

If the teacher does grant you an extension of up to 7 calendar days after the due date, or if the University does grant you Special Consideration, and you submit the work within the time approved, you will not be penalised for lateness. However, if you submit your work late without an approved extension, your work will be penalised by a reduction of 5% of the total marks each week, or part thereof, that it is late.

Work that is submitted more than 3 weeks late, without an extension approved either by the teacher or through the University’s Special Consideration formal process, will not be assessed.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview